Telecoms sector hit by falling mobile revenues


TELECOMS SECTOR revenues fell 2.7 per cent in the first quarter as mobile incomes dropped, according to the latest quarterly report from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Mobile companies saw average revenues per user (ARPUs) fall to €29 per month, down from €31 per month a year earlier and €36 per month in the first quarter of 2010.

ComReg said the decline mirrored a downward trend in ARPUs across western Europe.

Total quarterly electronic communications revenues arrived at €930 million in the first three months. Mobile retail revenues arrived at €390 million, down 6 per cent in the quarter and 2.5 per cent over the year.

The quarterly decline came despite a further rise in the number of mobile subscriptions and is the result of a fall in handset revenues and roaming revenues.

Average broadband speeds continued to edge upwards, with a fifth of all broadband subscriptions now for advertised speeds of greater than 10Mbps. A year earlier, just one in 10 consumers enjoyed broadband speeds faster than this rate.

Digital subscriber line (DSL) broadband remains the biggest category of broadband, but subscriptions fell slightly in the quarter, whereas cable broadband subscriptions rose 6 per cent. Narrowband or dial-up internet access plummeted 15 per cent in the quarter and halved year-on-year, but 20,654 people still use dial-up services out of a total of 1.69 million internet subscriptions.

Irish people are talking less on the phone, the report shows. Total voice traffic – both from mobiles and fixed-line telephones – fell 1.1 per cent to 4.34 billion voice minutes in the quarter. Voice-over-broadband (VoB) services have become more popular, rising to almost 10 per cent of total fixed voice minutes, up from 6 per cent a year earlier.

Irish mobile users’ passion for texting remains undimmed. The total number of SMS messages sent in Ireland totalled almost 3.2 billion in the first quarter, up 5 per cent on the first three months of 2011. The volume of multimedia messages (MMS) sent rose 14 per cent over the year.

Vodafone’s share of the mobile market remains the highest at 44.4 per cent, followed by O2 at 28.8 per cent. Eircom’s Meteor brand is next highest at 17.5 per cent, while 3 has a 7.9 per cent and Tesco Mobile a 1.4 per cent share.

Some 96,460 mobile customers switched operators in the first quarter, less than 2 per cent of the total number of subscribers.